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Festival Church at Hooton Roberts: “There is a rich history here to celebrate”

Photograph of Hooton Roberts Church

St John’s in Hooton Roberts is planning more community events and hopes to build a reputation towards becoming a Festival Church as it looks forward to Choral Evensong later this week.

The Steel City Choristers are performing at St John’s at 4pm on Sunday 23 April, which follows on from several recent celebrations at Hooton Roberts over the last year.

The congregation became smaller due to family commitments and changes in demographics, but festival services have brought in good numbers from the community (including a recent Mother’s Day service).

Liza Nash is a member of the congregation at St John’s – she says there’s a team with a good skill set and determination to succeed:

“Life and society are changing, family commitments gradually leading to a smaller congregation. People wanted different things from their church.”

“We’ve always had well attended festival services here in the village. There are some misconceptions about people in the community not wanting to come to church, which we want to challenge.”

“Hooton Roberts is a small village and farming community. The harvest service has meaning more here than an inner-city church. We’re also promoting things like foodbanks and clothing collections in support of local and international concerns.

“We are discovering what people are interested in: fellowship, community involvement, history. People may feel isolated and lonely or just call in to have a chat with others and to get involved.”

St John’s has musical connections with composers Vaughn Williams and Gustav Holst who were both regular visitors to the rectory next to the church. Vaughan Williams, (1872-1958), composed Linden Lea during one of his stays in the village. His musical heritage will be celebrated as part of the Evensong on the 23 April.

There’s a call to action for other churches thinking about hosting more festivals to not be discouraged moving forwards. One of the main challenges faced by churches is with the financial upkeep of buildings, an aspect that can seem daunting.

However, Liza says working as a team is key to moving forwards:

“You can be told it’s not within your reach, but don’t be disheartened, I think God has other ideas. There is a point where you need people to step up and take over the reins.  Everyone needs to carefully consider each role and how to help. There has to be an element of flexibility and an understanding among both existing and new members of the congregation.”

The Choral Evensong service starts at 4pm on Sunday 23 April, refreshments will be provided.

Image: cc-by-sa/2.0 – St John’s Church, Hooton Roberts by John Slater –